The Conservative Political Action Conference ended in Washington Saturday, after giving Sen. Rand Paul a second consecutive victory in the presidential straw poll that’s seen as an indicator of how Republicans see their leaders.
“The Kentucky senator received 31 percent, far ahead of second place Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who received 11 percent. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished third with 9 percent, ahead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who received 8 percent.
“The announcement came at the end of the group’s annual three-day confab. Organizers said that 2,459 attendees voted on computer kiosks.
“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied for fifth place, with 7 percent.”
As Politico notes, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was in second place in 2013, finished seventh in this year’s poll.
The annual straw poll is seen as an early indicator of who conservative voters might back in Republican presidential primaries, the earliest of which are slated to be held in February of 2016.
The event also brought a chance to gauge conservative voters attitudes toward an ongoing legal issue in the U.S.: the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
As NPR’s Sam Sanders reports, “62 percent of voters said marijuana should be legalized in some way.”
In a report for our Newscast unit, Sam says a former vice-presidential candidate closed out the three-day event:
“Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Republican lawmakers to forget about the Tea Party at their own peril.
“‘You know that 2010 election that swept you into power? You didn’t build that! The Tea Party did!’ she said. ‘So dance with the one that brought ya. And you want another sweep? Then grab a broom and join us at the party.'”
For more analysis of CPAC, check out NPR’s It’s All Politics.